How can we describe our dedication to our club? I think of it as an analogy of using Marriage. Marriage is something that most if not all of us have had dealings with. Whether with ourselves or our parents, we know the ups and downs, ins and outs of marriage. Now in our relationship with our club, I believe we can see quite a bit of correlation.
Marriage is defined as “the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship” or “a combination or mixture of two or more elements.”
So if we tweak the first definition and take out “of two people” it would be used in a very common sense of today. We are “married” to our jobs. We are “married” to our hobbies. It means we are joined. There is a union there that will take a great force to separate. Maybe our club? Some people cannot do anything half way. They jump in full force and become “married” to their club.
The Bible talks about “leaving and cleaving.” Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This is the first book in the Bible and the first mention of marriage ever in the history of the world. It speaks of the bond that each other takes on. It speaks of the sacrifices that are made with those on the outside of this union and the attention and dedication that are given to each other.
Does this describe your club life? Your dedication is so hard and strong with your club that everyone else on the outside suffers and is neglected? We often preach “family first” and make sure everyone knows that is our practice, but is it really put into place? Is it really our first rule when it comes to dedication? Is it our first line of defense when people question our allegiance or loyalty?
Marriage is something that most of us have experienced. We know what it’s like that first moment when you say “I do” and then the adventure starts. It’s exciting and wonderful. It is “the happiest moment of my life” as some put it, if not most. The honeymoon period starts and nothing can go wrong. Its ALL good. You hate to leave the house and then can’t wait to get back home.
Everything is Club Forever, Forever Club! We join every chat group and room we can get in. We cannot get enough. We consume ourselves with the other side. We jump in head first. We cover our vest with every patch imaginable. We spend all of our savings on everything club we can find. Every t-shirt, challenge coin, poster, sign, wallet, belt…cover our bikes in stickers and signs…whatever we have is not enough.
In marriage people want someone to come home to. They want someone to live life with. They need someone who fulfills that space that is left void by who they are not. In club life we need that fellowship. We long for that brotherhood. We are not created to be by ourselves. We are created to be with others and the club provides this. We have received that welcome and friend requests have poured in. The messages. The posts. The groups. We are Club For Life!
Getting Used to Each Other?
Six months down the road, you have realized some of the little things that get on your nerves, but you let them slide and just move past them without saying anything. At the one year mark you have discovered some things about this person that you never knew. You wonder if you knew this person at all.
Marriage is work. It is easy to get married but it’s hard to stay that way. You have to change everything you knew about life. Give up some things. Start doing things you don’t like just to appease the other. You make financial commitments and give and give and give. Sometimes it is very rewarding. Sometimes it is very frustrating.
After the new has worn off, where do we find ourselves. A lot of times I see where one takes advantage of the other. A lot of times I see where one side is doing all the work and the other side is sucking the life out of the other. No longer are both sides giving 100%. It becomes more like 80-20. We no longer have that fire in us at the beginning. We no longer have that hatred for leaving the house and the eagerness to come home. We no longer have that participation drive and the love that we experienced in the beginning. We are just riding the wave wondering where it all went wrong.
Sure we still have our ring, our cuts, our evidence that we are still involved and are still in this. We still show up and go through the motions. We still participate in whatever is going on, but it’s not the same. Where is this road taking us? We still sign everything as I love you. We still sign off as club forever, forever club! But our heart is not quite in it as it was in the beginning.
The time involved in this is different for everyone. Some marriages last a few months and then both parties decide it was a mistake. Some last for years and there is a falling out of love that takes place that sometimes can be explained and sometimes cannot. Maybe the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence and we are tempted to cheat or jump ship.
We separate ourselves. We find things to do to take up our time. We start making excuses to keep us out of the house, away from meetings. One party sits at home wondering what the other is doing…or if they are doing what they really say they are. Our bikes sit in the garage. It hasn’t been started in months. Occasionally we visit and chat with the other party. We still see each other, but seeing is really all we are doing. The love, the heart, the feeling is not there anymore. We have separated ourselves from that first love. We are really kind of lost and wanting direction. I hear it so many times when people say, “I need to go and find myself.” Or when a post is made that so and so needs to take a “leave of absence with the club.”
Posts and comments are infrequent and are never followed by a “for life” or “forever club” anymore. You’re just not feeling it. You don’t know where that feeling went or there are other things in life that have taken precedence and are now more important. Your lost and when you are together, you just stare off into empty space watching for the clock and waiting for time to leave.
It’s time to go. You have had enough or just can’t take it anymore. You would rather be alone, a “lone wolf” rather than have to deal with all the drama that is involved in that relationship. It’s too much. It used to be fun, but now it is work. I am having to work too hard to keep this relationship going. I’m stressed. I have no time for myself. All I do is put out fires.
I quit. I have written out my long letter of breakup and have sat with my finger on the enter button for several minutes now going back over in my mind through all of the good times we have had together. But I just can’t do it anymore. It’s time for me to move on. The chapter is “not going in the direction that I thought it was going.” The President “is too demanding. He is a dictator.” “We do nothing for the community.” “I am neglecting my family.”
Where are You in this?
I’ve heard all of the excuses and nothing surprises me anymore. What it boils down to in both relationships is that you get out of it what you put into it. You can’t just sit back and wait for others to take over, do all the work, and you just get to enjoy and reap the benefits. You can’t listen at meetings and when others make decisions you say nothing and then go home and gripe about what was said or done.
In the beginning yes it is all rainbows and unicorns. Everything is great. You bleed club colors. Everything you wear now has some club insignia on it. Why does it have to change? Being involved in an organization, in a relationship, that involves other people, is a choice you make. That decision to be involved must take on some form of understanding that…
I don’t know where you are in this. I’m pretty sure I have been, at one point or another, in all phases in this relationship with my club. I have been in the honeymoon phase for a few years. I have been promoted and have been given much responsibility. I have been thrown under the bus and disrespected by “brothers” and a few others. Still am. At times it seems like more work and it’s not quite what I signed up for anymore. But I strive each day to look at the whole picture. The men that I have met and come to love. Good men. Men that would go to battle for me and have my back during any battle in life. Men that will walk through the fire with you. That makes it all worth it to me. I keep going. I do everything I can to deal with difference, to understand and listen to what others have to say, to daily forgive those who have hurt me, to learn how to balance club life with everything else that craves my attention and to do whatever I can to renew my love and dedication somehow for the patch.
I struggle at times. I have to fight to keep that desire and renew that love. Sometimes I feel like I am all alone. But I am not. And it doesn’t take but a minute of reflection to realize that. I get out of this what I put in and this union that I have committed to will last as long as I allow it to. It’s up to me. Nobody else. Just me.
What stage of club marriage are you in?